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One Breath Away Paperback – 6 Jul 2012
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Deeply moving and lyrical, it will haunt you all summer. --Company on The Weight of Silence
Fans of Jodi Picoult will devour this. --Red on The Weight of Silence
Beautifully written, compassionately told, and relentlessly suspenseful. --Diane Chamberlain on The Weight of SilencE
About the Author
Heather Gudenkauf is an Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Heather lives in Iowa with her husband and children. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and running.
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Top customer reviews
Police officer Meg Barrett, farmer Will Thwaite, his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Augie Baker, and Evelyn Oliver, the teacher trapped in her classroom with her pupils and the gunman, recount what is happening around them, and then the final narrator is Holly, who is mother to Augie and her younger brother P. J., and who is in hospital across the country recovering from the effects of a terrible accidental fire.
This is an emotional, captivating story of everyday lives and relationships interrupted by one terrifying moment. The tension builds as the story progresses. The author conveys the worries of those waiting to hear any news from the school. I found myself thinking about who the gunman could be, and what his motivation was. There is suspicion and speculation as to his identity by those closely involved. Through what we slowly learn about these characters' pasts, the author introduces several possible candidates who could be the gunman. Anxious parents and friends wait, desperate for news, but little is forthcoming. For policewoman Meg, this is frustrating: 'I feel at loose ends; the little information I have is fragmented and disjointed, doesn't make sense.' The reader is kept on edge for most of the novel as to how the events will conclude.
The novel is fast-paced, the narrative voice shifts regularly between the five characters, and the sections are all fairly short, until at one point we have as little as a paragraph or two from one character, then we skip straight to another. This occurs as the story is at its most uncertain moment, and adds to the tension for the reader.
The main characters are all convincing and well-drawn, each with their own individual concerns already playing on their minds, these anxieties then being compounded by the shocking events of this day. It's fascinating to see how each character reacts in this awful situation. I kept wondering what would happen next, and I was thinking about the story even when I'd put the book down.
It's nearly Spring Break time, the last day of school, when a Code Red Lockdown message comes over the tannoy and teachers are told to go to the safe place. A lone gunman has entered the school. Who is he and why is he there?
There's a very strong sense of place and time. It's a small town, with a local police force prepared in theory for the scenario, but faced with the challenge of dealing with it in practice. There are procedures to follow. But backup can't get through because the weather has closed in. There's an almost palpable sense of isolation and introspection as the backstory around each if the central characters is revealed. Establishing the identity of the gunman is critical; the possibilities stack up as the narrative sweeps from one person to another.
Simple writing, but spot on. As a British reader, I was transported to a different world. Very plausible and totally gripping. I loved it.
Sadly it didn't, found there was too much story regarding the background of the main people, did seem to pep up a bit towards the end but I wouldn't particularly recommend this and I don't think I would read any more from this author.
Only good thing about it, when I downloaded it, it was on a free offer as I would have felt cheated if I had paid for it.
I did guess the ending but it did keep me guessing and I loved the characters and because I am a mum with a teenage daughter it struck a chord that sent shivers down my spine.
I would recommend this book because it's well written and enjoyable. I'm glad I took a chance a tried a different author.